Should you find yourself in San Francisco, cash-poor and free on a weekday, may I recommend the Anchor Brewing Company tour? For anyone who likes beer and finding out how things are made, this 45-minute tour and subsequent beer tasting is a fun and free activity for locals and out-of-towners alike.
You’ll need to call and make a reservation, but as I was told on the phone, if your chosen date is full, call back a week ahead of time to see if there are any cancellations. Tours are only conducted on week days. I was able to get a spot for Mom and I on two weeks’ notice this way. (Fridays, I understand, are highly coveted and scheduled up to six months in advance.)
This was my second time on the brewery tour, and my mother’s first time. We had a very animated tour guide who was happy to answer questions about the beer or the brewery (or anything, really, he said — “come talk to me, I’m a Leo and I like attention”). The tour starts with a historical summary of the brewery–it’s colorful, to say the least–and then you walk through the facilities.
At the end of the tour, you are given the opportunity to try 4oz each of eight beers (this time, we had the seasonal Bock* as well as the first beer in the Zymaster series), so make sure you either have a designated driver, plenty of time to walk around, or take MUNI to and from the brewery. (The 19 and 22 lines each pick up within a block of the brewery.)
* “Bock” means “Goat” in German, which, shamefully enough, neither my German mother nor I nor my +1 who also took German in high school knew or remembered. Hey, at least I know how to say “Wo ist mein Bier?” and “Wer hat gefurzt?”
My Mom preferred the darker brews: the Bock and Porter were more her speed, with a nice caramelly, coffee, complex flavor, while I am personally a fan of the Old Foghorn Barleywine and the classic Anchor Steam beer. Neither of us liked the Zymaster or the Small Beer selections (although they were flavorful for those styles).
I highly recommend a visit, whether you live here or are just visiting!